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Reckless Driving and Personal Injury: What You Need to Know

Aggressive driving is attributed to over 50% of the traffic violations and accidents occurring yearly in the United States. Aggressive driving is also considered reckless driving, and in either case, it’s a dangerous behavior that affects everyone on the road. Unfortunately, the behaviors of a reckless driver could lead to a devastating accident and result in personal injury.

Defining Reckless Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving takes place when an individual endangers other people or property through a combination of moving traffic offenses. Many believe it’s the willful or wanton disregard for the safety of either people or property that defines reckless or aggressive driving. Still, in some cases, there is no malicious intent involved.

Listing Reckless Driving Behaviors

Not everyone who engages in reckless driving purposely intends to harm someone or damage property. Sometimes, an absence of good judgment or careful driving behaviors can lead to an accident. This makes more sense when you know the activities that qualify as reckless driving. These include:

  • Improper lane changing, following, passing, or turning
  • Illegal traveling along the shoulder of the road, on a sidewalk, in a ditch, or on a median
  • Driving recklessly, carelessly, erratically, or negligently
  • Failing to obey traffic devices, officers, traffic laws, traffic signs, or instructions on vehicles
  • Failing to yield the right of way or using the appropriate signal
  • Driving faster than the posted limit, too fast for conditions or racing

Reckless driving can also be distracted driving. Listening to music, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the radio, or any other activities that distract the driver’s attention from the road and other drivers are dangerous. These aren’t malicious activities, but the potential for an accident and devastating injuries is just as high as other reckless behaviors.

Experiencing Reckless Driving Accidents

Speeding is one of the most reported causes of traffic accidents nationwide. While you may engage in speeding, you might not consider yourself a reckless driver, especially if you’ve not caused a car accident. With more than 227 million drivers across the country and over six million car accidents reported each year, it’s highly likely that you will one day be involved in a reckless driving accident either as the offender or the victim. A car accident involves a lot, but when you add reckless driving to the situation, it can complicate things quickly.

Serious Injuries

Whenever a motor vehicle gets into an accident, there is the potential for severe injuries, even with a minor incident. This is due to the size and weight of the vehicles involved. When you add speed to the mix, the risk of more permanent injuries and even death increases. Common injuries caused by reckless driving accidents include:

  • Concussion
  • Whiplash
  • Cuts, lacerations, bruises
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Internal bleeding
  • Broken bones

Minor accidents can still cause injuries that require medical attention. For those injured on account of another driver, dealing with medical expenses, time off work, damaged property, and more is overwhelming and frustrating. Thankfully, a personal injury lawyer can help recover compensation for a reckless driving incident.

Insurance Company Claims

After a car accident, a driver often turns to their insurance company for help resolving their property damage and medical bills. Because there are different types of insurance policies, your medical expenses may not be covered through your coverage. If the accident is the other driver’s fault, your personal injury claim could be filed on their insurance. In most cases, the insurer requires proof that a car accident caused your injuries and loss. Because insurers can be difficult to deal with and require excessive documentation, you may need to work with a car accident lawyer to get the compensation you deserve.

Dealing With Reckless Drivers

A reckless driver can ruin your life, especially if you suffered injuries from the accident. Getting the situation resolved can happen in a few different ways.

Criminal Convictions

It’s essential always to have law enforcement come to the accident scene and document the situation. This information is crucial for reckless driving cases. Reckless drivers can also be prosecuted on reckless driving charges, in which case you could see a resolution to the incident in both criminal and civil court. There is a complex burden of proof when pursuing criminal charges against a reckless driver, which is why some individuals don’t receive a criminal conviction for their behaviors. In addition to evaluating the types of reckless driving, the court also looks at intent and a number of other factors. If the individual was driving under the influence, had previous convictions, or was driving on a suspended driver’s license, a conviction is possible.

If a driver was distracted and failed to obey a stop sign or engaged in another negligent driving behavior, reckless driving charges might be replaced by a traffic citation. The prosecution has to establish a case where the evidence shows the driver committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is the perception that a reasonable person could have engaged in similar behaviors in a situation, it could be hard for a jury to convict. While a criminal court may fail to bring resolution, a personal injury lawyer can fight for compensation from a reckless driving accident.

Pursuing Compensation for a Reckless Driving Accident

If your local prosecutor doesn’t seek legal recourse against the other driver, you can use a personal injury law firm to resolve the reckless driving accident. While you won’t see the reckless driver sitting in jail, you can use a civil suit to get financial help repairing or replacing your damaged motor vehicle, pay medical bills or provide for non-economic damages.

Fighting the Insurance Company

If the at-fault driver had insurance, the law firm typically deals with the insurance company over your compensation. The driver’s policy will have allowances for certain payouts, but too often the insurer tries to deny the claim or devalue it. Your attorney knows what it takes to prove negligence according to the legal definition and get the compensation you deserve.

An accident lawyer will pursue compensation according to the accident’s severity, the impact of the incident, and any resulting injuries on you. Through a civil suit, you can recover damages from the other driver, whether personally or through their car insurer. When reckless driving is involved, the nature of the driver’s actions also has an impact on how aggressively compensation is pursued. In a civil suit, the court will use punitive damages as a form of punishment to the defendant, as no amount of money could replace what has been lost or fix an injury.

Fighting for Fair Compensation

When recovering damages, a personal injury attorney typically seeks compensation for several different things. These include any income lost because of the accident, medical treatment and rehabilitation costs, death or funeral expenses in the event lives were lost, and emotional trauma.

Recovering Lost Wages

When recovering damages, a personal injury attorney typically seeks compensation for several. A serious injury can keep you from returning to work for weeks or months. You may even suffer a permanent disability. In the immediate aftermath of the accident, compensation for time off work during your recovery or even for lifelong disability is possible. A reduced earning capacity could also be addressed.

Recovering Funeral and Burial Expenses

Fatal accidents are a real possibility when reckless driving occurs. In these situations, compensation usually includes payment for any funeral and burial expenses.

Recovering Bodily Injury Expenses

When you are injured in a car accident caused by a reckless motorist, the expenses for your care, treatment, and recovery are not your liability. Your lawyer will work with you to provide medical records, testimony from your treating medical professional, and other evidence to support your bodily injury claims.

Recovering Additional Damages

Emotional trauma and an accident’s lifelong impact are eligible for compensation, though these amounts are typically discretionary. Income lost from the death of a family member, or the effects of a condition like PTSD can lead to additional compensation.

Finding Help for Your Reckless Driving Accident

If you’ve been injured in a reckless driving incident and aren’t sure of what to do next, reach out to 1-800-Ask-Gary. Whether you need advice on finding a lawyer or have questions about which doctor can help with your injuries, you will get the answers you need to get the compensation you deserve.